Coaching searches can lead to some crazy rumors hitting the ol’ interweb. One out of a hundred might come true. From someone we spoke to inside the Georgia administration, the first big rumor of the day will fall in with the 99 that turn out to be nothing more than talk…
* Mark Richt of Georgia to Texas A&M. That rumor first floated earlier this week. It went nuts yesterday with Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News tweeted:
“Finally got confirmation the Mark Richt talk is legitimate. Should A&M hire him, Bama DC Kirby Smart likely would head home to Georgia.”
He later wrote that a source told him Richt was “in the mix” for the Aggie job.
Then it hit the messageboards. Then Paul Finebaum reportedly pushed the story as well.
But there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot to it. We spoke with someone inside the UGA administration this morning and were told that Georgia officials fully expect Richt to be “back in Athens next football season.”
The coach was in Tampa for most of the day yesterday at an Outback Bowl function. And who was spending most of the day with Richt? His boss, AD Greg McGarity. McGarity texted a number of UGA beatwriters yesterday — including Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer — to say “No truth whatsoever” to the Richt/A&M talk.
Emerson writes that “a source” he spoke to earlier in the week “questioned whether Richt would want to ‘uproot his family’ and start over now.”
More than likely, what you’re seeing is some old fashioned negotiating. UGA and Richt are working on an extension following the school’s 10-win, SEC East championship season. You can bet Richt and his agent would like one of those no-way-in-Hell buyouts that so many other coaches have. He does not want to wind up right back on the hot seat the next time he loses four games in a season or slips against Florida.
Leaking word of contact between A&M and his client would be one way for Richt’s agent to try and create a bit more leverage for himself in negotiations.
At the same time, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin has appeared to be the frontrunner at Texas A&M since Mike Sherman was fired. But speak to someone on that campus and you’ll find that the fanbase isn’t exactly thrilled with replacing Mike Sherman with another offense-first guy, one who happened to get drilled on national TV by Southern Miss last week.
All of a sudden — amidst a bit of a Sumlin backlash — A&M sources have started leaking word that Richt and Boise State’s Chris Peterson are serious candidates. From a PR standpoint, Aggie brass might be trying to send the message to their fans that they’re going after the best of the best. Better to do your due diligence and come back with Sumlin than to just go grab him.
Bottom line? Richt might land at Texas A&M. Anything’s possible. But we don’t believe it’s going to happen and our source at UGA says the situation is a lot more smoke than fire.
* Down at Florida, Shortly after Charlie Weis was named the new head coach at Kansas — the formal introduction comes today — Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com wrote that “Florida coach Will Muschamp was not aware that Weis had even interviewed.”
But that’s certainly not the message Muschamp himself sent at a Gator Bowl event last evening. He claimed that Weis told him of his interest in the KU job and that he is behind Weis “1000 percent.” From what’s being posted on Twitter, Gator players were a lot more stunned than Muschamp.
Florida must now find a new offensive coordinator. Muschamp says he’ll still go after someone to run a pro-style system. In the interim, running backs coach Brian White will call the plays against Ohio State in the Gators’ bowl game. White is an Urban Meyer holdover, by the way.
Muschamp said White would be a candidate for the full-time job (yeah, right) and that former Gator quarterback Kerwin Bell — now the head coach at Jacksonville University — would also be considered. The early rumored favorite appears to be former Auburn and current Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges. Muschamp served on the same AU staff with Borges, so he’s certainly familiar with him.
* Speaking of Auburn, the hot name connected to the Tigers’ defensive coordinator job appears to be that of Mark Stoops. AU messageboards lit up with plane-tracking info yesterday, but Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher says no one has called him or FSU AD Randy Spetman to ask for permission to speak with his defensive coordinator.
Stoops oversaw a Top 10 defense in Tallahassee this past season.
* New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has announced the hiring of four coaches for his staff, but none are surprises. All four men coached with Freeze at Arkansas State and were expected to join him in Oxford: Tom Allen (linebackers), Maurice Harris (tight ends, recruiting coordinator), Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach), and Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator and safeties).
* Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox remains a candidate at Arizona State according to various internet reports. ASUDevils.com — the Rivals site for the Sun Devils — goes so far as to say: “It is expected that if offered, Wilcox would accept and possibly be in a salary range of $1.5 million to perhaps a maximum of $2 million annually.”
Speaking to a source inside the UT athletic department, it seems the Wilcox-to-ASU story is more rumor than fact at the moment. The source said “a more realistic scenario” would have special teams coach Eric Russell heading to Washington State to rejoin Mike Leach. As we reported earlier this week, Russell worked for Leach at Texas Tech and his name has been mentioned a number of times in connection with WSU.
* Robbie Neiswanger of ArkansasNews.com lists three names that have been connected to the vacant Arkansas defensive coordinator position: Tyrone Nix (former D-coordinator at Ole Miss), ex-Miami head coach Randy Shannon (who Neiswanger says “does not appear to be a candidate now”), and the much-rumored Paul Haynes of Ohio State. Speaking to people in the Natural State, we have heard Haynes’ names — as well as Joe Whitt Jr.’s name — from the moment of Willy Robinson’s “resignation.”
Bobby Petrino is also search for a new special teams coordinator.